Hearst Castle reopens, ending a more than two-year closure
Castle adds a new two-hour Julia Morgan tour
– After being closed for more than two years, first due to the COViD-19 pandemic and then in 2021 due to a severely storm-damaged road, Hearst Castle opened to visitors this month. The closure was the longest continuous closure since its opening to the public in 1958.
The castle closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and that closure was extended by storm damage. In April 2021, state park officials announced the discovery of several sinkholes affecting a 2.25-mile stretch of road leading up to the castle. The damage was the result of a January 2021 storm that dumped over 20 inches of rain in the area, also washing out part of Highway One. The damage to the road delayed the reopening of Hearst Castle for several months.
The May 11 opening is greeted with the new two-hour Julia Morgan tour, taking an in-depth look at the life and career of this extraordinary woman as well as touring rarely seen areas of Hearst Castle. Morgan, the architect of Hearst Castle and other Hearst properties, was the first certified female architect in California and the first woman to head her own architectural office. As one of America’s preeminent architects, her designs graced private homes, college campuses, women’s clubs and religious buildings. This new tour highlights Morgan’s gift for design and includes photographic displays of architectural drawings, family photos and personal items.
Other changes with the reopening include a temporary halt to personal, unguided tours of the gardens and changes to fees.
Previously, visitors were allowed to tour the gardens on their own at the end of the guided tour. Instead, visitors will now return directly to the bus for the ride back to the visitor center. The staff hopes this is a temporary change and that personal garden tours will return as soon as possible.
Ticket prices have changed to $30 per person for the three main tours, but extra fees that were formerly applied to ticket purchases have been incorporated into the cost, resulting in an overall cost reduction. Some special program and tour ticket prices remain the same but those prices also incorporate the fees.
Tickets are available for purchase from the Hearst Castle website and can also be purchased at the visitor center. Advanced ticket purchases and reservations are strongly recommended.
The castle typically attracts 850,000 visitors from all over the world every year. “Hearst Castle is a state treasure and we are thrilled to reopen this wonder to the public to enjoy in a safe and responsible manner,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “We are confident that these once-in-a-lifetime repairs and improvements to the road facility will serve countless generations to come.”